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Commentary

Fate, hope and Grace Poe

/ 01:42 AM April 30, 2015

For the failed candidate who must feel that the three mythological Fates had once too often denied him his destiny, the die had been cast. He declared that he would make another bid for the presidency.

He was impatient. He was not going to wait for diluted presidential blessings or party endorsements, much less another bungled episode to further erode popularity already on the ebb. What did his colleagues know? More important, what did the pollster’s public know? Wasn’t he the brainiest in the lot?

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Besides, Mar Roxas was once again being cast aside for a candidate from nowhere. Desperate for a winnable candidate not likely to throw them in jail just as soon as constitutional immunities wore off, incumbent leaders seemed ready to pin their last hopes on Grace Poe.

That was the last straw.

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It would have been an ominous anagram. The letters P, O and E, the most significant in Sen. Grace Poe’s name, have exactly the same as HOPE save for one usually silent anyway. As anagrams go, it does not require brains to rearrange P, O and E into H-O-P-E once we’ve added that final letter.

When the public recruited the late Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ) to run against Gloria Arroyo, they knew they were not recruiting a politician, an economist, or even an administrator. They simply hoped for someone popular enough and untainted by corruption pitted as a counterpoint and foil. After all, Arroyo had in her arsenal the Commission on Elections.

But FPJ had the popularity. Had he not fallen victim to infernal cheating, he might have been president. Heirloom popularity explains the public’s endearment with Benigno Aquino III in 2010, and, lately, the increasing odds of Grace Poe.

Now if only Philippine politics were as simple.

Rather than hope, despair seems to be creeping into our awakened consciousness, slithering out from the fiery depths of Hades where profound fears and nightmares churn and boil.

For those who take suffrage seriously, many have lost heart and are overcome with a sense of futility given the prospects that loom on the horizon like dark storm clouds and ominous shadows. Election 2016 is inevitable. And it appears that our democracy will again suffer the perennial curse of having to compromise for the lesser among evils.

Denied real choices, the public is once more pushed into that dark corner where options surrender to simplistic criteria between clean and corrupt, or between competence and incompetence.

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Analyze our disconsolate state.

As past is prologue and ambition is a potent impetus, the secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government is now in the 2016 short list.

Certain that Roxas is as clean as a whistle, we remember our folly. Did we not once also imagine the same but were soon frustrated with Mr. Aquino?

Might Roxas also abet insidious collegial corruption, or perhaps, as a veteran politico, even effectively aid it via dereliction and implicit support?

Note accusations of kowtowing to political compromise at the Department of Transportation and Communications given accusations surrounding the Land Transportation Office, and then at the DILG given rampant extrajudicial abuses, increasing criminality and corruption involving the police hierarchy.

Pandering to partisanship has a price. This was evident during Roxas’ failed handling of the Tacloban crisis when political banalities took precedence.

Add serial episodes of temper tantrums, failed publicity stunts, insensitivity and a lack of compassion amid charges of ineptitude. All these are invoiced on the public.

From left field one political party is pushing for Rodrigo Duterte—an option largely derived more from Mr. Aquino’s lack of leadership, gullibility and weaknesses than Duterte’s machismo qualities. Unfortunately, Duterte has no national platform, much less the experience necessary to tackle critical global security and economic issues. Duterte is simply Wyatt Earp. But the Philippines is not Tombstone, Arizona.

The front-runner is Vice President Jejomar Binay—a diametric counterpoint to Roxas’ and Duterte’s fatal shortcomings. He has similar leadership qualities sans the brusqueness and insensitivity. He does not fly off the handle. He does not foist his ego over others. He leads in opinion polls despite efforts to demolish his popularity.

However, critical corruption issues continue to hound him. For the discerning among us, the corruption issues are nonnegotiable.

Pity us if what remnant hope we might still entertain depends on an endearing facsimile whose compromises include making her bed with politicians who’ve maligned her father. Pity that we might now rely on the unfulfilled promise of FPJ’s ghostly memory.

Dean dela Paz is a former investment banker and a consultant to the Joint Congressional Power Commission. He authored a book on energy governance tool kits and teaches finance, investment mathematics and corporate strategy.

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TAGS: 2016 Elections, Grace Poe, Mar Roxas, presidential candidates
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